Kenny Chesney on His Days as Mark Chesney and Kenny Chesnutt

It was called Invitation Only. But really, as long as you had a television, you were essentially on the guest list for Kenny Chesney‘s intimate concert that premiered Monday night (Sept. 27) on CMT. And while I have always been an avid fan of Chesney’s big arena shows with the full band and brass section and opening acts and all the bells and whistles, this show is my new favorite way to see him perform. Mostly because with a tiny two-man backing band (guitar and keyboards), you could really hear the music. Even the lyrics on songs like “Living in Fast Forward” sounded poetic. “A lot of my songs are incredibly, sometimes painfully, autobiographical,” he told the audience. “And ‘Living in Fast Forward’ was a song that, from about 2002 to last September, this song was the epitome of my life out on the road.” The quiet setting also made it perfect for a little Q&A. And when one guy asked about the strangest gift he ever received onstage, he offered a great story. “Can I tell you the strangest thing?” Chensey responded. “I’m playing at a bar in Houston, back when they were calling me Mark Chesney or Kenny Chesnutt — one of the two — just to get anybody to come. This lady asked me if I would sign her tattoo. She pulled down her pants and her whole butt was a tattoo of the state of Texas.” Joking, he added, “I’ll never forget that. I said, ‘Don’t show me where Austin is.’” View videos from Chesney’s Invitation Only performances.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.